DUBLIN, Ireland — Two men wearing bulletproof vests were shot to death at point-blank range in what police said Monday was the latest bloodshed in a five-year turf war between drug-dealing gangs in Ireland.
“This is a brutal, ruthless killing. It is extremely worrying,” said Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose government has been accused of doing too little to deter the rapid growth of gun crimes in a country where most police remain unarmed.
Both victims, aged 30 and 26, were shot repeatedly in the head Sunday night as they sat in a car on a quiet cul-de-sac in southwest Dublin. Police suspect they were killed by two men from a rival gang who lured them to the spot for a meeting.
Police said they later found the attackers’ burned-out getaway car with the remains of firearms inside. They have made no arrests, and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
The attack raised to 18 the number of gun killings within Ireland’s criminal underworld this year. Twenty men were killed in gang-related shootings in 2003, a record high, while eight more died in 2004.
Police said both victims Sunday had been under police surveillance and were wearing bulletproof vests because of fears they could be assassinated by a rival gang. Their names weren’t immediately released pending notification of their relatives.